Psalm 1:2 NKJV
To go deeper in our faith we need to go beyond just reading our Bibles and take the time to meditate on what we are reading. We can be frightened of the word ‘meditate’ but the word is defined as focusing our minds on something or thinking deeply about something. When we meditate on God’s Word, we are shutting out all distractions and fixing our minds on the truths we are reading. By thinking deeply about what the Bible says we can begin to gain understanding, wisdom, and start to hear what God wants to say to us through His Word. Peter was so dependent on the words of Jesus that he said, ‘Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life’ (John 6:68 NLT). And Job said, ‘I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread’ (Job 23:12 NIV). As we meditate on God’s Word we develop a mind-set that enables us to rise above our fears. ‘My word…will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it’ (Isaiah 55:11 NIV). His Word has power to bring change to our lives, our minds, and our situations. His Word will accomplish His purposes in our lives. That’s why the enemy will battle us over finding time to read our Bibles. But we have to prioritise time reading and thinking about the Bible, even when we are really busy. And when we have made that time, let’s make sure that we are moving beyond simply reading passages. We need to be thinking and meditating on what we are reading. Let’s ask God to transform us and show us new things in His Word.
1 Chr 1-2; John 7:45-53; Ps 9; Prov 24:30-34
Isaiah 40:29 TLB
Sports Illustrated magazine says, “Stress fractures begin when the shocks and strains of playing game after game create tiny cracks in outer layers of bone. When those cracks become large enough to cause severe pain, they are known as ‘stress fractures.'” If you’ve ever had a stress-fractured mind, you can relate. It eats at you by day and keeps you awake at night. And when you try to “medicate” it with alcohol, or drugs, or an affair, or overeating, or a hyperactive lifestyle, it gets worse. What should you do? (1) Change your focus. “Come to me…and I will give you rest…Let me teach you…and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29 NLT). “He gives power to the tired and worn out, and strength to the weak…they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:29-31 TLB). Instead of struggling alone with the burden, share it with the burden-bearer and let Him strengthen you. (2) Lighten up! “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine” (Proverbs 17:22). Don’t make such a big deal out of everything! Lighten up and laugh more, especially at yourself! Do you even remember the last time you enjoyed a good laugh? Accept your imperfections. Let some stuff go. Stop trying to be Wonder Woman or Superman. Get away for some fun. Yes, you need fun too! Cancel some of your not-so-important meetings. If you want things to change, you will have to change them. Today talk to God; He knows how to heal stress fractures.
Soul food: 1 Tim 4-6; John 5:31-47; Ps 126; Prov 24:10
John 4:39 NIV
When we share stories of how God’s been working in our lives, we are glorifying God and encouraging others to keep trusting that God’s at work in their lives too. Having theological discussions can be challenging, but people connect with stories, and they can’t argue with our personal stories. Our story, however messy, has the potential to bring other people to Jesus. When Jesus met the woman at the well, He revealed who He really was to her. She knew she was talking to the Messiah. He knew her story, her messy background, her relationship issues, and He spoke words of life into her. He showed her that she could have living water. Once Jesus had said this, she rushed back into her town to tell others. ‘Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did”‘ (John 4:28-29 NIV). When we experience breakthrough in our lives, are we quick to share it with others or do we let fear and doubt get in the way? Thanks to this woman’s willingness to share her encounter with Jesus with others, many people believed in Him. But it’s crucial to remember that we can share our stories with others and bring them to Jesus, but it’s His Word, His power, and His presence that can change and transform lives (take a look at verse 42). The Bible tells us that we have been chosen to ‘declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light’ (1 Peter 2:9 NIV). So let’s declare the praises of God and glorify Him through our stories.
Exo 34:29-35; Mark 9:2-27; 2 Cor 3:7-18
Nehemiah 4:9 NIV
The Bible tells us that we should bring everything to God in prayer. Paul said: ‘Pray without ceasing’ (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer invites God to do what we can’t do. But sometimes we can pray about things and then think that we have done all we need to do. Nehemiah said, ‘We prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.’ Nehemiah did two things. He took the matter to God in prayer, and then he did something practical too. Praying about something doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t do anything to change our situations. When praying we need to be asking God to give us wisdom for our circumstances, and listening to what He says we should do. Until we have asked for God’s guidance, we can only act on our own thoughts and the advice of others. God’s wisdom is so much greater than human wisdom. He says, ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know’ (Jeremiah 33:3 NIV). When God reveals His will to us, we shouldn’t delay in acting on it. We might not be given all the steps we will need to take, but before God gives us the next step, He wants us to obey the first. That can be challenging because we like to know the whole plan before we get started, but we have to trust that God’s got it all under control. Sometimes when we pray about something, God can tell us to wait. That can be challenging when we are eager for things to change and want to get on with things. But waiting can be active too. We can persistently bring things to God, keep seeking His wisdom, and ask Him what He wants to teach us in the time we are waiting.
2 Sam 12:1-14:20; John 2:12-25; Ps 89:1-14; Prov 23:10-14
Matthew 11:28 NIV
If the load we are carrying is too heavy for us to bear, Jesus didn’t give it to us. Others may have, or we may have taken it upon ourselves, but Jesus had no part in it. He said: ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light’ (vv. 28-30 NIV). The final stress management principle Jesus taught us is: Give your stress to Him. We will never enjoy complete peace of mind until we develop a relationship with the Prince of Peace. Jesus didn’t say, ‘Come to Me and I’ll give you more guilt, more burdens, more stress, and more worries,’ even though that’s what a lot of us can begin to think He said. Some people teach that we have to do more and be more, but that only creates pressure rather than relieving it. In essence, Jesus said, ‘I want to give you rest. I’m the stress-reliever. When you get in harmony with Me I’ll give you inner strength.’ Only Jesus can transform our lifestyle from stressful to satisfied. The greatest source of stress comes from trying to live our lives apart from the God who made us, trying to go our own way and be our own god. If we have never committed our life to Christ, we need a transformation. We need to give Him our lives with all the stresses and say, ‘Lord, please give me a new life. Replace the pressure I feel with the peace You offer. Help me to follow Your principles of stress management.’
1 Sam 4-7; Matt 26:30-46; Ps 52; Prov 21:17